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Red Star Sister : Between Madness and Utopia Paperback – August 1, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There are fascinating moments in this memoir of a young woman living during the 1960s counterculture, but Brody takes herself so seriously that she often sabotages her own undertaking with ponderous commentary. She compares a tough first-grade teacher to Nixon, because "[n]either could tolerate opposition, and both were determined to crush dissent." At her suburban high school in the late 1960s, Brody and a friend who also had long hair were hair-sprayed by primmer students. "Their intent," she writes, "was to immobilize our hair and, by extension, our minds." Once she'd graduated from high school, Brody hit the road, ending up at a communal house in Chicago with the White Panther Party, where she was the token feminist yet still expected to do the dishes. After a short stint in Ann Arbor, Mich., she boarded an old school bus with a group bound for Pittsburgh, Pa. Claiming to have few memories of that trip, she offers verbatim journal entries instead. If Brody's retrospective voice can be heavy-handed, her youthful diary has no sense of irony whatsoever, although this earnest chapter does have a few humorous moments ("NOTE TO MYSELF. Never take hallucinogens in a police station again!"). Brody continued to write for alternative papers, putting out a column under the name Buckwheat Groats, and eventually she headed to Europe, where she hoped to show up at the Paris peace talks and end the Vietnam War. Brody certainly had her share of fascinating experiences, and for the most part this is a smooth read, but even now, with years of hindsight, she seems at a loss to say what those experiences meant.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Brody (ed., Daughters of Kings, Faber & Faber, 1997) elegantly chronicles her life as a young woman from a Long Island suburb who came of age during the Vietnam War. Recounting her journey into the Sixties counterculture of antiwar demonstrations, Woodstock, participation in the White Panther Party, and presence at the Paris peace talks, Brody conveys "some sense of the utopianism and the complicated vision of country and self that dazzled so many of us in the age we held in common" with crisp writing and captivating honesty. She neither glorifies her life nor hesitates to reveal both the courageous and foolish aspects of her choices. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.?Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ruminator Books (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1886913153
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886913158
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,630,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Leslie Brody's autobiography recounts her young life as an activist at the height of the counterculture movement, giving readers the inside scoop on the life of a radical hippie. With the body count for the Vietnam War on Cronkite as her background music, Brody leaves her home in a Long Island suburb to single-handedly save the world. She packs her red suitcase and heads into the unknown, stopping for episodes at White Panther collectives in Chicago and Ann Arbor, Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, and finally, Europe, where she hopes to attend the Vietnamese peace negotiations. Its rich detail, humor, and awareness of self and world make Red Star Sister a fascinating memoir.
Brody gives readers a strong sense of the euphoria felt by radicals in the 60's and early 70's. She explains how the goal was to off the pig, and "the fashionable rhetoric encouraged kids not to trust anyone over thirty and, furthermore, to kill our parents". Adults represent the death culture, and hippies idealistically set out to recreate Woodstock all over the world, where love and community would reign over war, napalm, and lies.
Brody's use of detail and allusion is effective in illustrating the counterculture atmosphere. She evokes the music of Phil Ochs and Country Joe McDonald, political role models Che Guevara and Mao Tse-tung, and of course, her literary heroes Doris Lessing, Joan Didion, and Anais Nin. With enjoyable candor, she recounts her experiences with hashish, Yellow Sunshine, and free love. Even as a young person born a decade after this time period, I still get a powerful sense of what the world was like for the radicals.
In the midst of revolutionary zeal, however, Brody presents herself as a character with an undeniably human side to which I can relate.
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Format: Paperback
Red Star Sister promises no more than "one woman's point of view", a glimpse at a period in our shared history that was marked by turmoil and upheaval, but strife and idealism. This one point of view is more than enough to give the reader what Leslie Brody hopes for, namely a glimpse at an "often shadowy, anxious time", and through the retelling of the events therein, she hopes for herself a chance to recapture the utopian image of self and society that drew her generation together while they were being rived apart by the events of the day.
Brody takes the reader through her childhood on Long Island, replete with insecurity stemming from her middle class upbringing to reprimands for her defiance and intelligence at the local public schools. Through a surprisingly personal and unflinching recounting of her teenage years, through her mother's death, her anger towards her father and the men in her academic life, and her ever increasing political awareness, Brody prepares the reader, through recollections and journal entries, for angst filled state of mind that could take a young hippie girl from Long Island to a White Panther commune in Chicago where she was trained in the art of guerilla warfare, should the ideal for society need to be defended, with force if need be. The ever pressing war in Southeast Asia translated into an intensely individual war at home, as Brody struggles to retain her idealism and even sanity as she comes to grip with her dreams clashing with reality.
In the end what has been offered here is an unapologetic glimpse into the mindset of a woman who shared the life of a generation, without the recriminations or glorifications to be had within the memoirs of contemporaries, done, perhaps, as much for her own sake as that of the reader she takes with her on the journey.
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By A Customer on December 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the autobiography of a feminist "hippie" from the 60's whose witty writing style portrays her as a woman who does more than blindly preach against the Vietnam War. Readers of this book will find out that she is a true American. Brody, who grows up in a Jewish family, integrates Yiddish into her dialect. As soon as I read the word "zoftig" and "vildechaya," I felt connected to her through the culture we've shared. This culture connection, by the way, is a timeless generation bridge. It was as though I understood where she was coming from because she had the same grandmother, the same self-awareness, and similar prejudice problems as many Jews know quite well. Red Star Sister, in this respect, is timeless.
My favorite anecdote of the story was her experience at Woodstock. This is because I could picture my mother somewhere in the crowd, while everyone at the concert was thinking and talking about the same things- either peace, drugs, love, or absolutely nothing at all. Of course we have all read about these things in other books that are probably better publicized. But the reason why this one is so good is that she developed my trust first. Brody captures me with commonalities of religion, language, and crazy-but-thought-out actions.
I would especially recommend this book to women who want to read about themselves or read what they could have done if they wanted an exciting, politically active life. This book combines the location changes of the James Bond series, the class struggles and racism issues of Their Eyes Were Watching God, a witty personal perspectives like that of Virginia Woolf, and an effective writing style like Tim O'Brien. Brody shows herself as an American with the type of patriotism we are lacking today. The passion that comes with patriotism.
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